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Susan Bart

The Cutter Interview, which has been rather overlooked for quite a while now, but we are pleased to say that it has happily resurfaced today and in its time it has introduced you to some very prominent members of the Marquetry Society.

You will in the past have met, among others, a President and a Chairman of the Society, a former editor of the Marquetarian, the longest serving member of the Society, and a goodly sprinkling of Rosebowl winners.

All those people you have met so far, held a special significance in the structure of the Marquetry Society. It would certainly be true to say that without their presence and contributions, the Marquetry Society would never have become the recognised authority it is today in its role as leading ambassador for the art and craft of the global Marquetry movement.

Our Interviewee today comes from Spain and is one of the most tireless practitioners we have ever met of this ancient and noble marquetry art of ours.

She applies herself to the furtherance of our cause with a fervour few could match. She now teaches marquetry techniques to her many students in a uniquely beautiful and picturesque area of Northern Spain – her name, as you may have guessed, is Susan Bart.



A true champion of Marquetry is Susan, she has many decades of marquetry experience to share with us, so let us not waste any more time here with simple idle chatter, let's instead hear wonderful stories taken from those years of marquetry wisdom that is the marquetry career of Susan Bart.

So now it's over to you Cutter and your fascinating interview with a talented champion of the marquetry art, no other than Susan Bart:

Cutter: We are here today to talk to Susan Bart of the Spain Group.

Susan Bart

Cutter: Hello Susan, now could I ask you first - how did you initially get into marquetry and what attracted you to it, was it perhaps as a result of inspiration coming from anyone else’s work, or was it because you had a background in woodworking of any sort?

Susan: When I was a very little girl, my father had a business that implied getting in contact with many carpenters all over Spain. He bought a couple of big pictures from a marquetry artist then. I loved those two pictures and I always wanted to make things like that. Long time after, I went to University to study Fine Arts and I tried take up formation in Marquetry wherever I had the chance. That is why I have become a member of the Marquetry Society since 2007.

Cutter: Some people have a liking for one particular type or style of design. Do you have any particular preferences in designs and what influences do they have on you?

Susan: Yes, I like simply DIFFERENT, but in terms of common flat designs I like images where veneers are the principal factor and not the drawings. I avoid figurative designs with hundreds of pieces and I prefer simple lines and abstract.


Fun Fan
The Fun Fan

Cutter: Do you carefully plan the initial stages of a new piece of work? For example, if working from a coloured picture do you also take a monochrome copy to trace from - or look at tonal range?

Susan: I rarely have to do such thing because I usually create my own designs and I try to influence my students to do the same or at least slightly modify any given design.

Cutter: Why do you choose to make or produce a particular piece of marquetry? Is it for yourself, a present, or because it is a fascinating design - or is it for the challenge, or is it simply a commission?

Susan: It is all of that, it depends on the project. I produce many pieces (quite like a workaholic), but the answer would be that it’s usually a challenge.

Cutter:  Do you derive more pleasure from creating a picture or an applied piece such as your Shoes or Mantra Skirt etc?

Susan: I've more pleasure just creating! I do not care about the topic nor the artistic discipline. I reckon that an applied piece has further more possibilities for being creative than in a flat picture. I derive more pleasure when I make things I have never seen before, yes, like Marquetry skirts…fan (as seen here. Ed)…or using the veneers differently as texture…always thinking ways to be myself and not following rules nor others careers. I wouldn’t say I am a marquetarian, I just use wood veneers to cover my works.

Cutter:  Would you say that marquetry could be seen as a relaxation for you?

Susan: Not exactly, the way I work with veneers is not the hobby craft approach at all because I want to finish the work even before I start it. I have many ideas in a queue waiting to be materialized so, though I enjoy making marquetry, I rather work fast and sloppily than with accuracy. The first general sight impact of an art work always beats any minor detail so I think it’s not worthy fighting against perfection.

Mantra Skirt
The Mantra Skirt


Cutter:  What piece of advice would you give to a beginner just starting out on his or her first piece of work?

Susan: I teach two groups of marqueters in Bilbao, and I always say the same: Have fun! Enjoy your task!!! Find an image you really like, the result is not important at all, just enjoy the process and the time.

These are samples of the marquetry layons which I send to other professionals to apply to the base structure they have made in our collaborative work

A collaborative piece, being a chair made between 3 artists, these being: - Marquetry by Susan Bart (Spain) - Fabric/cloth design by Julie Kouamo (England) - Chair structure build and design by Ruairi Grew ( North Ireland)

Cutter:  Marquetarians nearly always have a piece of work that is a favourite. Can you pick such an item, from all your work that has given you most satisfaction?

Susan: Probably the work “waves” because it is very old and the first piece of work that spotted my own style: not square, not flat, just simple, very little marquetry on it

Cutter: Has there been any piece of work, made by any other member or marquetarian, which has left you thinking I wish I had done that?

Susan: Yes, of course, a lot of them! But I do not enjoy the elongated process involved in the making; or taking a whole year working on the top of the same image using many hundreds of cuttings.

Structure of my thinking
Structure of my thinking

Cutter:  Many marquetarians have mixed feelings about their finished work as far as keeping them for themselves. Do you keep all or any your creations?

Susan: I always try to sell them all, it's a pleasure feeling that your picture is good enough, as would be the case, when someone would be willing to pay for it.

Cutter:  You are well known for your expertise with laser cutters, would you have any advice for other marquetarians who would like to try their hand at laser cutting?

Susan: You need to be able to draw vectors in a computer, that means you need to be good with programmes like illustrator or Corel Draw, for instance. You need money and space for the laser cutting machine, as to own one is basically a just a whim, as you can cut quite easily using simple conventional methods. I love the laser cutting machine because it allows me to make as many changes as I consider appropriate very fast.

Cutter:  Getting your work finished (by that I mean sanded flat and varnished) by a professional – are you okay with that, or do you think the marquetarian should do everything, meaning designing the original artwork and on through to the final polish, themselves?

Susan: I don’t think we should do everything. As an artist, I am supposed to be able to create, to make it real; but then should I also be required to produce, to make great photographs of it, to publish, to sell it, and also, if you really want to take it to the nth degree, even going to cut the veneers from the trees? That is others business! We are not carpenters, nor photographers, nor sellers, but we do everything stepping on others professional matters. The art of marquetry is just marquetry, means cutting and joining pieces building an image. Just that. Then you could give it to a carpenter to apply the marquetry to a big chair for example, and then to a professional varnisher, and then to a professional photographer, and then to a professional seller.

Cutter:  Taking into consideration your talents as a fully qualified artist, what is your stance on the long-standing debate about marquetry being either an art or a craft?

Susan: Art is an overused word that comprises too many areas. I would simply answer that Marquetry is a technique we may create art with. If you treat it as a craft, it will be a craft, and if you treat it as an art, you may have the chance. For me, marquetry is just a technique, quite like oil painting. It is easier to see it if you compare it to pottery: ceramics has suffered the same situation but several artists have managed to bring that art into the contemporaneous art. The marquetry society treats marquetry as a craft, I do the same in my lessons with my students because it is much easier, we just focus on techniques and tips. I think I should leave it here because I could talk about this debate for ages.

Cutter:  The ‘for or against coloured wood’ argument has gone on for years. What are your views on it?

Susan: I don’t care at all. I rarely use them because I don’t like them very much, but I use them whenever I need them. That is not a problem for me.

From the Earth
From the Earth detail view




Intense Sea detail
Detail view from the piece titled ‘Intense Sea’ showing the carved multiple layers of veneer used for depicting
the sails

Commission Swan

Sample of tiny veneer pieces overlapped

His Condolences
His Condolences

Cutter: We now regularly see the ‘Judges comments’ for the National Exhibition award winners in The Marquetarian, do you think these comments are helpful in any way?

Susan: Yes, of course. I really appreciate all opinions. We learn about the different values and criteria of different people and it helps to approach to different points of view which is essential to make our brain flexible to understand better. Judges have a reasoned reply from their own perspective.

Cutter: We sometimes hear the suggestion that marquetry would be livened up by incorporating other methods. Do you think that there is any case for introducing any other media into marquetry, for example pyrography or mixed media?

Susan: Of course, whenever mixed media enhances the creation, it is more than welcome. Imagine a piece of music with just one instrument, it could be amazing but if you introduce any other instruments, it could be even better. Would a collage with mixed media be less artistic than an oil painting? It depends on the works…not on the technique.

Cutter:  Do you have any other crafts, hobbies or interests, which share your available time?

Susan: My interests are always related to art, studying, creating, exhibiting. I am a sculptress and I use wood veneers to cover my works. Right now I am also finishing a masters degree in Ceramics, so I work on a wide variety of artistic areas that cover all my time.

De la tierra
De la tierra

Cute bow
Cute Bow

Cutter:  Have you seen changes in style of marquetry since you started and if so have you adapted your own work to follow any changes?

Susan: Not at all.

Cutter:  How do you think the craft of marquetry can develop to attract more people to it or do you think that, like many other crafts we have reached a low that will take some time to recover from?

Susan: To attract more people we need to do attractive things, it means “nowadays things”, things that attract young people. Marquetry is old fashioned because not only is it antique, but it is also kind of the taste of oldish people of classic style. I think our best opportunity would be to get strong into the design movement. And needless to say that education is the main issue here: schools…art schools, short courses, shows…will spread our loving of Marquetry. I think the Marquetry Society is making a great job overall.

Cutter: Thank you very much Susan. See more of Susan’s work online at

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